6 Questions Deans Need to Ask when Calling on Prospects

Why Donors Give - Image of a Growing Plant

The following article is based on "The Appointment with a Prospect or Donor: DOs and DON'Ts," the second chapter in Jim Langley's book Fundraising for Deans.

by Jim Langley (Langley Innovations)

A dean’s role in fundraising is to cultivate the relationships that are critical to sustained fundraising success. That kind of relationship begins when two parties make a “connection” based on a shared purpose or shared values.

In making their first calls on prospects, deans will not make the best possible connection if they see the call merely as an opportunity to tout their school or college.  Such an approach presumes that prospects are not aware of their institution’s strengths, and signals that they are there to ask for more without having expressed appreciation for what has already been done.

Deans will create a far more positive impression if they begin by conveying their interest, appreciation and respect for prospects. That can be achieved by asking the right questions.


According to a national survey of higher education alumni conducted by the Collaborative Innovation Network for Engagement and Giving and presented to the Annual Giving Directors Consortium (April 2010), only 52 percent of alumni at those institutions with the highest alumni participation rates believe their alma mater keeps them closely connected and values its alumni relationships. Most believe that their alma mater is primarily interested in their money—not in them.

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